‘Spanish Trinidad’ has re-emerged from the shadows of history, more than two centuries after the English took the southern Caribbean island from Spain – a 1797 conquest confirmed by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802.
But this time, the story of those times is told not by Spanish grandees or galleons bearing treasure or the search for El Dorado, but by a display of ancient texts and plans.
A letter from Christopher Columbus to the Spanish King and Queen in September 1498 , relating his first sighting of Trinidad, is one highlight of the exhibition. Others include economic reports from the last Spanish Governor, Don Jose Maria Chacon; as well as maps of Trinidad at various points in time and images that include a visual depiction of a battle!
Trinidad & Tobago National Archivist Avril Belfon, who accompanied the exhibition to Jamaica, has been talking to visitors about the texts and visuals, which have been placed on display at the UWI Museum. Click below to see and hear her discuss some of the displays:
The 15 framed documents on display are careful fascimiles of original documents in Spain’s Archivo General de Indias or General Archive of the Indies at Seville – a gift from Spain to the republic of Trinidad & Tobago on the occasion of that nation’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2012. This is the first time that they are being shown outside of Trinidad, through a collaboration of the representatives of Trinidad & Tobago, and Spain, with the University of the West Indies’ Vice Chancellor Professor E. Nigel Harris. The exhibition got underway with a lecture by UWI Lecturer Dr Armando Garcia de Torre, who translated and edited Francisco Morales Padron’s seminal work on Spanish Trinidad – the new edition also launched on November 13.
The exhibition, which run’s alongside the UWI Museum’s semi-permanent ‘Origins’ exhibition, is on show from November 13 – 27.